by Valerie Verkamp
A man allegedly connected to the killing of up to five people in Jackson County and who allegedly physically assaulted three hotel guests in Platte County was detained around midnight last Tuesday, Sept. 2.
His arrest ended a tense night for some residents in the I-29 and Barry Road area of Platte County, as authorities had launched a manhunt for the suspect in the early evening. The search finally came to an end along Interstate 29 near the NW 72nd Street exit.
The Platte County Prosecutor's Office charged Brandon Howell, age 34, with unlawful possession of a firearm, tampering with a motor vehicle, burglary, and three separate and distinct charges of assault.
In Jackson County, last week Howell was charged with the three counts of first degree murder, three counts of armed criminal action, burglary, stealing a motor vehicle, two counts of assault, and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Two more murder charges are scheduled to be filed against Howell in Jackson County this week, as two victims that he had allegedly beaten and left for dead in their basement last Tuesday died from their injuries a week later.
According to Platte County court records, police were dispatched to Motel 6 located at 8230 NW Prairie View Road at 4 p.m. Upon their arrival, officers with the Kansas City Missouri Police Department interviewed several hotel guests, claiming a black male in his 30's assaulted them.
A guest in room 246 said a man knocked at his door and asked to borrow a lighter. When the hotel guest opened the door, the suspect forcefully pushed the hotel door back and positioned his hand around the victim's throat. The suspect entered the hotel room, closing the door behind him.
The victim told authorities; Howell proceeded to punch his face several times. Fortunately, the hotel guest was not alone. His room companion left the bathroom and attempted to pull the suspect off the first victim. In the process, Howell's shirt was torn off and unintentionally left behind as evidence.
During the altercation, the hotel guest tried to escape the hotel room, but he was knocked temporarily unconscious. The other hotel guest managed to leave the room, but was chased down by Howell. The suspect grabbed the guest by his shirt, causing the guest to fall to this knees and slice his leg. Despite a scrape to his torso and knee, the victim got away.
A hotel guest from an adjacent room heard moaning nearby. She witnessed a guest in room 246 crawling out of his room hollering for help.
Howell allegedly tried to throw the hotel guest off the second floor balcony of the hotel's exterior room floor. Howell rush passed the witness, chasing and swinging punches. As Howell passed the witness, he allegedly struck her in the face with his fist.
A hotel employee said she witnessed Howell attacking a hotel guest and dropping the guest to the ground.
Before authorities arrived, Howell had managed to flee the scene on foot. A stolen 2002 Toyota Highlander was discovered about a quarter mile south from the scene.
Officers with the Kansas City Missouri Police Department set up a perimeter around the vehicle.
But it wasn't until midnight before the suspect was successfully detained. An alert motorist called 9-1-1 after observing a man, who matched the description of an early assault, walking along the shoulder of southbound Interstate 29.
Police officers ordered the man walking along the interstate to kneel to the ground. At first, Howell avoided the officer's request by turning the right side of his body away from authorities. Howell bent the left side of his body to the ground, but told officers he was cramping.
Officers frisked Howell and discovered a concealed Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun inside his right pant leg. The gun contained four live rounds of ammunition in the magazine. Police also uncovered keys to the stolen 2002 Toyota Highlander connected to the three homicides in Jackson County.
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd extended his gratitude to the Kansas City Missouri Police Department and the vigilant motorist whose call to 9-1-1 led to Howell's arrest.
“It was a tense evening throughout much of Kansas City. But members of the Kansas City Police Department and several other agencies worked tirelessly until this man was captured. They were aided by an alert member of the public who saw a man fitting the description and contacted police,” Zahnd said.
This was not Howell's first brush with the law. Previously, Howell served time at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility in Kansas. Court records indicate on Sept. 6, 2000, Howell was convicted of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, kidnapping, and aggravated robbery. On Feb. 8, 2011, the Kansas Department of Corrections released him to live in the state of Missouri at an approved place of residence. He was formally discharged from the Kansas Department of Corrections on Aug. 28, 2013.
Howell is being held without bond in Jackson County. In addition, Platte County Associate Circuit Court Judge Ann Hansbrough set Howell's Platte County bond at $250,000 cash-only.
In Platte County the case is being prosecuted by first assistant prosecuting attorney Mark Gibson and assistant prosecuting Attorney Blake Sherer, said Zahnd.